I’m starting to sense National may be dodging a bullet

National’s Northland candidate, Mark Osborne, has defended his work for a community centre he set up which is now under review by the Far North District Council.

The National Business Review reported that the Te Ahu Trust, of which Mr Osborne was general manager, was being reviewed by the council after recording losses in 2013 and 2014. Mr Osborne was general manager until October.

The Te Ahu Trust is a charitable trust that is council-controlled. It received $15 million of taxpayer money to set up a community centre in Kaitaia, the Te Ahu Centre, which included conference facilities, a theatre and cafe. That recorded a $185,168 loss in the 2013 financial year and a $522,681 loss in 2014.

In a written statement yesterday, Mr Osborne said he understood from the council that it was “a positive review” assessing the relationship between trust and council to ensure the governance structure was “enabling Te Ahu to best serve Northlanders”.

“I’m proud of the work Te Ahu does for our community and I’m proud of my involvement with that organisation.”

National’s campaign manager, Steven Joyce, said the council review had nothing to do with Mr Osborne. “My understanding is there is no relationship with Mark Osborne.”

I was listening to Mark and Winston on Red Radio this morning, and to get?to the point, Osborne was awful. ?But that’s not too bad by itself.

Osborne claimed that the recorded losses were all due to depreciation.

He’s a poor communicator and throws out poorly constructed explanations that will never stand further scrutiny. ? Even if it was depreciation, this would have been clearly expected before the project even started. ?It’s not as if that sneaks up on you during the year.

It’s clear the community centre was nothing but a tax payer troughing exercise, and it displays?no specific eagerness?to be fiscally prudent. ?A community centre that needs taxpayer support and doesn’t even return financial results to offset depreciation is nothing but a rort.

At this stage, Osborne will need luck to take the electorate on Saturday. ?Everyone is calling it “too close to call”, but the realisation that Steve Joyce has stuffed up in Northland has settled into the inner circle. ?They’re despondent, they’ve given up, and Osborne is essentially on his own.

When it gets to the point where the local membership refuse to put up election hoardings and the imported MPs and out-of-region helpers?had to step up to do it, it signals that the brains trust and the grass roots are in a dysfunctional relationship.


– Claire Trevett, NZ Herald